Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Johnny at 9 Months

Johnny,

Exactly 9 months ago you were making your presence very well known as we tried waiting for Dr. Norton to come deliver you. You, of course, had plans of your own and decided to be delivered by the nurses instead. I like what you are doing at this moment (napping) a bit more than what you were doing 9 months ago (shoving yourself out of my body and into this world with no warning and no help). I love this moment and that moment though, very much, and I am so proud of you!




We went to the doctor today for your 9 month checkup. Your height is 27.25" which puts you in the 12th percentile on the regular growth chart and 65th on the Ds chart. Your weight is 16 pounds 13.5 ounces (10th percentile and 55th percentile) which means you lost a bit of weight since the beginning of the month. I figured as much since you fought off that tummy bug with the rest of us around Daddy's birthday. Dr. Bel was very pleased with your growth along the chart and your proportions. She had no concerns about your growth or development. This was the first pediatrician check up that we have had to say "no" to several milestones. They asked about saying "mama" or "dada" (yes!), crawling (no), pulling up (no), trying to grasp with three fingers (sometimes), and waving bye (no). I thought it would make me very sad, but I actually found it sort of liberating. Now that you are "running behind", we can just focus on what you can do, what you are working on doing, and our own personal goals for you. I think that deciding privately with our OT on what comes next feels better than worrying about what a book or piece of paper says you should be doing. Dr. Bel does want us to work on introducing more table foods and finger foods to you, more for a variety of foods entering your tastebuds. You were a happy little guy at the end of the checkup because you didn't need any shots!





We introduced formula into your diet and you are handling it well, I don't think you care about what you drink half as much as mommy does. You just want something room temperature to cold that fills up your belly. You drink 4 ounces of breastmilk mixed with 2 ounces of formula for 4 feedings a day. You can hold your own bottle, but often get lazy and will rest it against Mommy as you guzzle it down. You usually eat two meals a day and I will probably go ahead and start feeding you breakfast too. We have introduced puffs and yogurt melts into your diet to give you something to do while we eat dinner. You will try to grab them and put them in your mouth so you have the concept down! We are working on the sign "more" while I feed you solids. I will sign more, ask if you want more, take your hands to sign more, then give you more while signing it again. You seem to understand the concept and have gotten closer and closer to signing it when prompted. There is nothing like training sign language with food! You still could care less about peas and love sweet potatoes, spinach, and apples. There are no sign of teeth yet, but you are chewing and drooling a bit more, so we will see if you have any by next month.


You began sitting up on your own right around the 4th of July. You sort of just got it overnight. We had been working and working with you, holding you up and trying to get you to do it. Suddenly it all clicked and those muscles had gained enough strength to do it on their own. The next weekend we discovered you could go from laying on your tummy to sitting up. At first we thought it was a fluke when you were sitting up in your crib, but you have done it for us a few times since then. We are now working on getting you up into a crawling position. You need to get a lot more strength in your arms for that and you aren't really motivated to crawl right now, you prefer to roll around and pivot on your tummy to get where you want to be! You love to play with the toys on your play mat and anything that has texture to put in your mouth. You also love the sun toy that plays music and we use that a lot to motivate you while working on your OT. Just yesterday I was holding a stuffed puppy while making a barking sound and you giggled and laughed. I am glad to see you are developing your sister's fondness for puppies! I am working on reading to you more and I think you like it if the colors and pictures are bold and bright!



I cannot think of a better sleeper than you. You still sleep 12+ hours at night and will take two naps during the day. Your morning nap varies depending on what we are out and about doing, but I can always count on your afternoon nap to be a few hours. It is funny to catch you asleep in your bucket seat because you will often be clutching the monkey toy that hangs from the bar or clutching the bar itself. It isn't surprising that you will clutch the bar, you often put both arms out to brace yourself as we "rock" the bucket seat along walking to and fro. You like to sleep with a blankie, but will still kick it off if we try to cover you up. This is ok by me because you look very cute in the footie jammies we have for you to keep your little toes and legs warm against the cool fan. You seem to sleep on your side more often than not which helps a lot with you not snoring as much. You haven't taken a lot of naps on Mommy's chest recently, we should really rectify that before you are too big and don't want to do that anymore!

We love your big, gummy smile and your constant vocalization both of testing out what sounds you can make and desperately trying to communicate with us. I love to hear you call out "mama mama" when you want me and your occasional squeals of a happy "dada". You are so happy, so easy going, and so loving. I am happy to be your Mommy and so happy we got to spend another wonderful month together.

Love you!
Mommy (and Daddy)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Apricot Glazed Salmon

Tonight we had salmon, I am trying to be more proactive on cooking healthy and Matt really wants to integrate more fish into our diets to help all sorts of great things about our nutrition. I am picky about my fish and prefer to get it from the store the day we cook it. As I was stalking the fish case at HEB, I had to suppress a smile because the fish monger kept stalking the case with me, ready to grab my choice from the selection. I started to get slightly frustrated as most of the Salmon and other fish are farm raised. Certain varieties of fish really need to be wild caught if you can manage to get it that way. I finally found Alaskan Salmon that was wild caught and was a decent price. We served it with whole wheat couscous and sauteed squash and zucchini.

Take one pound of salmon, leave the skin on. Heat a non stick pan with olive oil. Season the flesh side of your salmon with kosher salt and herbs de Provence (you can vary it, but that is what I used). When your pan is hot, but not searing (medium to medium low), place the salmon in, skin side up. Leave it in the pan for about 4 minutes before flipping to the other side. As the Salmon cooks on the skin side (about 4 minutes), brush the flesh side with a mixture of 2 tablespoons Apricot jam, 1 tsp honey, and 1 teaspoon of Balsamic vinegar. Flip back onto the flesh side to seal in and glaze the topping. Serve with your sides.

This made enough for the girls and us to eat and for Matt to have a smaller serving for lunch. The girls really liked it as did we. The glaze wasn't overly sweet, just enough for a nice addition to the salmon. I think we will have salmon again next week with a teriyaki/brown sugar glaze.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Impromptu Zoo

I love, love, love friends who, when one plan falls through, says "Let's go to the zoo this evening instead." I won't say it was a perfect time, but I really enjoyed it. Spending time with the Faulkners is always nice. Jennifer is so good about helping out with the kids and chipping in an extra hand. And my girls adore their "sisters" and really loved running around the zoo with them. We had a couple disappointments as the splash pad was already closed, but we did get to ride the train (not with Matt though, oh well). The train ride was a lot of fun and I need to splurge on it more often...and distract the kids when the homeless guy is peeing on the tree. They didn't notice that, thank goodness. The elephant baby and the giraffes were particularly charming today and the cougars didn't threaten to eat my children. All in all, for our family, a day spent with the Faulkners is always a win!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Time

Remember when you were a kid and the days dragged on? Remember it being May and you just couldn't wait for the weeks to pass and then summer would be here? Remember it being September and all you could think about was how many weeks were left until Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas? As a kid you could stretch out a weekend to seem like a week or two vacation and Christmas Break was like eternity. Time meant so little as a kid.

Now I hesitate to blink for fear of missing something. July is almost over! The summer has flown by along with the rest of the year. I realize my days are full as a grown up, but even the days that aren't as busy speed along at a quicker than comfortable pace. How has that changed? Is it because you have lived less years, so the time that passes seem longer relatively? Or is it because their are responsibilities and tasks which make life pass by too quickly? I like how some days carry along, but at the same time, I'd like to catch my breath!

Looking onto tomorrow needs to stop and I need to take even more time to enjoy my moments, my minutes and hours with my kids, my husband, my family, my friends. It all feels to fleeting and before I know MacKenzie is going to be in space, Keegan is going to be making people laugh somewhere else, and Johnny is going to be overcoming hurdles for himself and his buddies. So right now, I commit to enjoy the sprinting moments even more. I don't think time is going to slow anytime soon, may as well relish what I can!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Strangely Good Day

Today started off with Mattie taking the girls in their jammies to go get donuts. Most of our good family days start with donuts! The girls have been cracking us up with their new donut eating technique of eating all the icing and sprinkle part of the donut off of the top and leaving the cake donut bottom. Looking at their plate you see perfectly round donuts with bite marks all around the top where the good stuff used to be! We then ventured out as a family to the zoo. Mattie hadn't been in a very long time and since we have a membership, we don't mind trekking out their for a little family time of walking around and enjoying seeing the animals. We knew it would be hot and crowded, but we set our expectations low and just went with the flow. The girls had a pretty good time for about an hour and a half and loved showing their daddy some of their favorite animals. We only saw about half the animals, recognized that the girls were getting hot and hungry, and decided to go get some lunch.





 Hanging upside down like a fruit bat


The best family picture we got...

We had a very good lunch at The Corner Bakery Cafe. MacKenzie had been insatiable this past week and we could barely keep her full. Apparently that growth spurt has switched over to Keegan who ate a fruit cup, a whole serving of noodles and meatball, and half of her sister's macaroni and cheese! The kids all acted great and seemed to have a good lunch as a family. Those simple times are so good. Notice in the picture below how Keegan is holding Matt's hand as she eats. 





Afterwords, we dropped by a Toyota dealership to see if we thought the Sequoia might work for our family. We are in the market for our own SUV and really love Matt's Toyota Tundra and my mom's 4-Runner. As much as we would love to buy another Toyota it became painfully obvious as soon as the dealer opened the back hatch that the SUV won't work for our family. Way too small behind the third row. We want something with captain's chairs in the second row so we need that third row regardless. But that limits are searching a lot so we have some direction now. I am just grateful that we didn't get the whole family out of our car just to be disappointed!

In addition to upgrading our car, we would eventually (next year, two, three) like to upgrade our home. This house is amazing, but not where we would like to live forever. So we checked out a neighborhood further out in Cypress because there was an open house. We liked the idea of the neighborhood (1/2 acre lots, a ton of green space), but we aren't crazy about the homes/builder out there. However, we love looking at houses without the commitment of calling our realtor. In fact, it is one of my favorite things to do right now as a family. Matt and I can see what we do and don't like about certain floor plans or homes to help us better plan our next move, whenever that may be.

The evening was pretty low key, a movie here for Matt and the girls, a nap for Johnny, organizing time for me, and leftovers for dinner. So we could look at things as being disappointing (not a lot of time at the zoo, funky weather, not getting as much done as we wanted, no go on the car we wanted, no go on the house we thought we might like), but Matt and I keep commenting about how good of a time we had as a family today and how great of a day it was. Cup half empty? Or half full? I think our cup overfloweth!



Their version of the kissy face...it's pretty cute!

Friday, July 26, 2013

What not to say...

I had a random memory of the day we first got the hint of Johnny's diagnosis and wanted to record it...for myself and for others who could use the reminder.

Needless to say, I was a little shocked and extremely upset upon leaving the doctor's office after learning about the concerns that showed up on the ultrasound. I had cried in the exam room, in the parking lot, and in the car. I needed to pull myself together because Crystal was patiently waiting at her house with MacKenzie and Keegan, probably very ready for me to pick them up. One of Matt and I's traditions is to stop for a chocolate smoothie from Potbelly Sandwich Works after our doctor appointments. I even try to uphold the tradition when he isn't there (I know...what a sacrifice). Crystal was approaching her third trimester so I had told her earlier that I would pick up a little treat for her too, just because and to say thank you for the extra help watching the girls. The last thing I wanted to do was to get out of the confines of my car and go inside, but Baby Raptor was hungry and so was Crystal. I took a moment to try and collect myself and hurriedly ordered my food. The sandwich makers try to chat you up while you are waiting for your sandwich to toast and in what seemed like an extraordinarily long period of time, the guy behind the counter began to do just that. I stood there, numb and tried to fake myself through the conversation. Apparently there was no Oscar for Best Performance in my future because the guy just stopped the chit chat and said, "Um, Lady, Are you ok?" I fought back the hot tears springing to my eyes again and told him it had been a really hard day. And then...he shrugged his shoulders and went on with the chit chat. Now I wasn't expecting a huge soliloquy or further prompting into my woes, but a simple, "I'm sorry" would have sufficed nicely. It felt very odd to stand there as he jibber jawed on and on about his day while I just willed the seconds to pass a bit quicker. I need to remember this myself. If someone looks like they are having a bad day and I feel compelled to inquire, I need to be prepared with an appropriate response.

That being said, it was a really good sandwich and an even better smoothie.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Update on Keegan July 2013

Keegan,

Wow! You are certainly appropriately named! You are either 0% or 150%, hot or cold, loving or ferocious, happy or really, really, really upset! I love you so much, even if I can't figure you out sometimes!

Well, you got your first hair cut. It was not officially sanctioned by Mommy though. I was downstairs getting something and I heard Mac talking about playing "hairdresser". It didn't really register until a few minutes later and it was one of those moments that Mommies throughout time and around the world can relate to when all the sudden your mind rewinds what just happened and it hits you what your child just said. I ran upstairs saying, "Oh no. Oh no. Oh no." Thankfully, you had the good sense to run away part of the way through. She did cut a good amount of hair and I was pretty upset. Your hair grows slowly and it had just gotten to a perfect length and was looking nice and even. I comforted you as you sensed that what had just happened was a horrible injustice and told MacKenzie that if she ever did that again, to anyone, that I would chop her hair off too. She is very proud of her long, yellow hair, so hopefully that won't happen. Since neither of you will read this, if at all, until you are much older, she didn't do a horrible job. It is definitely not a good cut, but there are some way worse cuts out there. In fact, it looks like she tried to layer it a bit. I may have laughed about that a little. I love how your little hairs curl up in the back and I hate to see go away, which is why I haven't taken you in for a formal cut yet myself!




You have discovered quesadillas as one of your new favorite foods, but nothing surpasses the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich in your book. If given the choice, you will eat that every meal of every day. You do love all sorts of foods though- feta cheese, tomatoes, avocado, carrot sticks, apples, bananas, cereal, yogurt, candy, ice cream (especially pink with sprinkles), you name it and more than likely you will eat it. You have been pretty hungry lately too so it is nice to see you gobble up the food Mommy makes for you! You are just getting tall enough to try and fill a cup with water at the fridge, but will definitely fill one at the bathroom sink if you need to. You also hand us your sippy cup when you are almost done with it and say, "Open this please. I drink the rest." so you can get those last drops! You can go pretty consistently without a nap, but need one from time to time. If I don't get the chance to lay you down when you need one, you can fall asleep pretty much anywhere...




You get so excited about so many things. When you are picking something you like or clarifying some exciting news we tell you, you will grin and hold one finger in the air while repeating what we just said. Then when you hear the good news you will jump and down, clap, and say, "Yay!" It is fun to see your excitement and enthusiasm for life. You love to participate in anything that other people are doing. You will cheer, clap, sing, dance, dress up, pretend play, or whatever as long as you are part of the group. You love to laugh and giggle and even if you don't find something super funny you tend to give a pretty good courtesy laugh. The other day Mommy was tickling you and I could tell that you were "rewarding" me with an obligatory laugh, as if to say, "Thank you Mommy, I appreciate you being with me!" It is so fun to make you laugh though, either by saying something, making a funny face, dancing silly, or singing goofy songs, we spend a lot of our day trying to get you to let out your infectious little giggles!


Your favorite toy is your "Puppy Princess Purse" and your favorite colors are pink and purple. Mommy has to remember to give you the pink yogurt, plate, spoon, and sippy cup whenever they are clean (as opposed to Mac who gets as much green as possible). You like anything musical and to pretend to sing and dance. You love to climb everything and will frequently use the living room couches as jungle gyms, climbing on to them, then onto the arms or the back and rolling off onto the floor while saying, "Look at me, look at me! Whee!" You love to run around and in case I haven't written about it before, you still do what I call "The Egg Beater Run" where your legs go around in little circles as you run. You do like to read and are picking longer books to read too. You know almost all your letters and love to draw circles and lines when we color.


Keegan, you are amazing. I love having you as my daughter every day. I think we can't help but love you! You are a little pistol/firecracker/imp, but you are our all of those things and you make me so stinking happy! My heart swells just thinking about you and how much I love you.


Love,
Mommy (and Daddy)










Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Orchard

Today we were invited out to Matt Family Orchard with some friends. Figs and Blackberries are in season and it is fun to get the kids outside to run around with friends. Today apparently wasn't the best day to try all this as Mac and Keegan were on the fussy side. There weren't a ton of figs ready for picking and we heard the blackberries were even more sparse. The day was still salvageable until I realized that Keegan wasn't wearing or holding her glasses. I tore through the stroller to see if she put them in there, but to no avail. So I headed off in the direction we were walking around, combing the ground for the glasses. We searched and searched and boy do we owe Karlin big time because just as I was about ready to give up, she let out a little shriek and found them, a little dusty, but in perfect condition otherwise.

We called it a day at the orchard (without any fruit for us) and headed over to a farm that Karlin likes to get milk and eggs at. We let the kids see the goats, dogs, and cows to have a little taste of the country life. I am so glad that MacKenzie and Keegan love animals and know how to approach them. While we could work on the squealing a little bit, they both hold out their hands for the animals to sniff before moving it to love on and cuddle them.










To top off the day, I made a blanket tent/fort/cave for the girls and we had lunch under there. They had a great time playing under there and it is amazing to me how two girls that were almost ready to go head to head can be united by something as simple as a blanket tossed over the back of the couch and two chairs. Next time I think I will grab flashlights for the girls to add to their fun and make sure the markers are put way out of reach. Someone (Keegan admitted to it, but there was a suspicious looking "M") decided to channel their "Inner Neolithic Man" and made "cave drawings" on the back of our couch. Thank goodness for OxiClean.



We don't get a lot of pictures of Johnny when we are out and about because he is usually either in his bucket seat (which doesn't make for great pictures) or being worn in my Mei Tai wrap. He is a good boy who was content to just be with some of the people he loves the most. While we had lunch under the blanket tent, he sat in his bouncer looking onto the scene!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mac July 2013

MacKenzie,

You are rapidly approaching four years old and we are noticing it more and more each day. In fact, I told your dad that I think you grew overnight early last week because you just looked taller and now I know that you are, indeed, in the middle of a growth spurt since I cannot keep you full for more than an hour at a time! I cannot remember the last time you requested three snacks in one day and ate three full meals as well! You attacked your roast beef for dinner! You also mature so much each day, it has been fun to be able to converse with you more and more over the past weeks.


We discovered last week that you can be a bit more independent in the pool as you used a friend's swimming ring under close supervision and kicked and floated your way around the neighborhood pool. It was fun to see you enjoying the pool so much and made the time better for Mommy too! You were probably tall enough to stand on your tip toes in the shallow end, but you were too timid for that. You love swimming and playing in the water though and will gladly spend a good deal of free time trying to con your way into a pool. Speaking of tip toes, someone has taught you how to stand en pointe and you will hold a piece of furniture, curl your toes up, and tell me that you are practicing ballet. Not sure how you learned that or why you think it is fun (because I think it looks rather uncomfortable), but you like it! Your Dee found a teenager sized violin and gave it to you a few weeks ago. I cannot tell you how excited you were to hold the violin, drag the bow across the strings, put it in it's case, and walk around with it. You played with it this way for hours. I think we will acquire a somewhat smaller one for you to learn since violin is one of those things that you need good form for, but it's nice to know how much you truly love the instrument...as if you haven't been telling us for a year now!


You are working hard on sight words and sounding out words. You sometimes forget to say the first letter which is frustrating for you and Mommy, but we are working on it. We also practice our writing by writing little notes to family and friends. I have several that need to be sent in the mail. We are working on basic math and you seem to understand the fundamental idea. If given the choice you want to learn about space or practice your USA map though. You know where almost all the states go on the puzzle and can name about half of them. At first we thought you were just memorizing relative location, but you saw an outline of Mississippi at church and told us, "Hey, that's Mississippi!" How neat is that! We started learning the planets last week. You know Earth, Jupiter, and Pluto (yes, we are teaching you Pluto) and will sometimes remember Mercury and Venus. Because you love space so much (you have told us you want to be a doctor who takes care of animals in space after reading a book about astronauts) we talk about it frequently. While Keegan and Johnny were napping the other day, you and I watched several YouTube videos that a Canadian Astronaut has put together about different stuff in space.


You love Disney Princesses and their movies. I think you love Little Einsteins and Bolt just as much though. You are definitely hitting a Belle stage though and have asked to watch it frequently. Sometimes (probably too much) we watch a couple of shows on Disney in the morning while we eat breakfast and I feed Johnny his bottle. You really like Sophia the First and Doc McStuffins. You love The Magic School Bus books still but are quite happy with anything we read to you. You love to play dress up and to take care of your stuffed animals. You have recently started cooking more in your play kitchen. You also love to help Mommy cook and helped her make Green Bean Casserole and cookies recently.


I am sure there are a thousand funny things you say that I am totally blanking out on right now, so I will have to add those or do a different post later.

I love you so much MacKenzie Grace. You make my heart very happy and I am so glad to have you as my firstborn!

Love,
Mommy (and Daddy)




Monday, July 22, 2013

Verbal Johnny

video

Johnny is working hard on his verbal skills. He is babbling both Mama and Dada along with other repetitive sounds. All of these sounds starts as babble and turn into words with recognition. We aren't sure if he associates Dada with Matt yet, but he does cry Mama a lot and knows when we say Mama. This is great news. Kids with Ds have a lot of hardships in communicating, both in development and in conveying their knowledge later on. It is hard to get a good idea of if/when Speech Therapy could kick in through ECI. I have a feeling that I am going to need to research a lot of it on my own and then look into seeing if our insurance will cover private therapy. In the meantime, I think we will keep working on the normal baby words and developing him along as we already are!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mac's Money Goals

MacKenzie covets this Cinderella dress up dress that friends of hers have. Cinderella doesn't even usually make her top five princess list, but there is something about this dress that makes her go nuts. And she doesn't even like the color blue all that much, her favorite color is green right now. One day as we were looking through the kid's toy section at Target, trying to find a birthday gift for one of the bajillion kids we know, she spotted the dress hanging from one of the toy aisle racks. Cursing silently to myself, I explained to her that we weren't there to get the dress. Now, every single time we are at Target, she tells me that, "We need to go see her dress." Then to top things off, she saw they have a Princess Sophia dress so she alternates between which one she wants. I tried to tell her that if she waited until her birthday she would get it, but I admit, October is a long way off for such a little girl. Seeing a teachable moment here, Matt and I opted for another route. We told her that if she can earn half the cost of the dress by doing chores around the house, we would go get it. We told her this on Friday and she has been relentless in asking if she could earn money over the past two days. We plunged in today and she began two chores (unloading the silverware and wiping off the stairs with a wet rag) for money to put in her ziploc baggie. She has the money stashed away in a safe place and is eagerly awaiting the chance to make more. I would love suggestions for other things that she could do. I would prefer that they be things that could be done on a regular basis and things that she could do somewhat independently. I should have the girls make up their bed, tidy their room, and pick up their toys more consistently so those aren't up for consideration. But everything else is fair game if you have any great ideas. She would like to earn that $10 sooner rather than later so I am sure she will be excited to give anything a try!

I am proud of her attitude and willingness to work for something that she wants!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Woodlands Children Museum

Yesterday we joined our friends from our Ds Buddy Group at The Children's Museum in The Woodlands. It is not affiliated with the main Children's Museum Downtown, in case you were curious. I had been wanting to give it a try so we were happy to meet our friends out there. It is a smaller museum, but I think it is perfect for kids roughly 5 and under. Slightly older would be ok too if they had a friend or if it was less crowded where they could explore a lot. They have a lot of different sensory activities, workers everywhere helping out and cleaning up, and was set up in a Montessori fashion for a lot of independent play and learning. The membership is a good price for our family so we may get one in the next few months. I liked that they had a fish tank and parakeets at the museum too. Here are some pictures of the girls enjoying their time, Johnny slept in the Mei Tai the whole time!



Recently, Matt had the girls help him work on one of the cars, so it was amusing to me to watch the girls get out of the play truck and say "We need to check the tires" while making air compressor sounds  and moving their hands near the tires.



 The girls loved the water table and all the different animals in the table.





Of course our little readers find the only books in the museum and take time out to read! MacKenzie was delighted to find a Magic School Bus book!